When medication fails to ease the symptoms of clinical depression, there are other options to try. Brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), for example, can be used to treat major depression that hasn't responded to standard treatments.
The least invasive of these techniques is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in which a magnetic field is created by a device held to the forehead. causing a weak electrical signal to be applied to the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that is connected to mood.
We love our vacations -- those great escapes from the humdrum and the hassles. But if you're depressed, the annual vacation may seem like yet another obstacle -- especially with soaring gas prices and an unstable economy. Vacation depression is a fact of life for many people.
You feel guilty spending the money -- and pushing yourself to plan the trip becomes a burden. Every flat tire, delayed flight, and tantrum (child or adult) is simply draining. When your vacation ends, there's the depressing...
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is another treatment for depression that uses a surgically implanted pacemaker-like device that electrically stimulates a nerve that runs up the neck into the brain. The nerve is called the vagus nerve. With ECT, an electric current is briefly applied through the scalp to the brain, inducing a seizure.
In addition, alternative therapies such as yoga and hypnosis sometimes work for mild depression.
What Is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?
ECT is among the safest and most effective treatments available for depression. With ECT, electrodes are placed on the patient's scalp and a finely controlled electric current is applied while the patient is under general anesthesia. The current causes a brief seizure in the brain. ECT is one of the fastest ways to relieve symptoms in severely depressed or suicidal patients. It's also very effective for patients who suffer from mania or other mental illnesses.
ECT is generally used when severe depression is unresponsive to other forms of therapy. Or it might be used when patients pose a severe threat to themselves or others and it is too dangerous to wait until medications take effect.
Although ECT has been used since the 1940s and 1950s, it remains misunderstood by the general public. Many of the procedure's risks and side effects are related to the misuse of equipment, incorrect administration, or improperly trained staff. It is also a misconception that ECT is used as a "quick fix" in place of long-term therapy or hospitalization. Nor is it correct to believe that the patient is painfully "shocked" out of the depression. Unfavorable news reports and media coverage have contributed to the controversy surrounding this treatment.